Posted by Nicole on March 12, 2019
Ever heard of “alexithymia?” It’s a big buzz word in the psychology community right now. It’s a condition where you have a hard time being aware of your emotions, identifying them properly, or describing them to yourself or others.
It is actually very common. It is believed around 1 in 10 people experience it.
If you have alexithymia, you might be stressed and be totally unaware of it.
But even if you don’t have alexithymia, you could find yourself missing out on important cues regarding your own rising stress levels.
This is because quite often, we are so hyper-focused on what is stressing us out that we screen out other information.
The more aware we can be of our stress levels, the less likely it is we will overload.
Tips for Monitoring Your Stress Levels
- Pay attention to your breathing, especially if you feel light-headed. Are you breathing rapidly? You could be stressed or anxious.
- Notice your posture, and check regularly for muscle tension.
- Begin deliberately observing yourself throughout the day. Do you notice certain feelings, physiological sensations, or behaviors you experience in response to rising stress levels? For example, do you routinely forget to eat or drink water when very stressed?
- Try making an “emotional thermometer,” where you write down signs and symptoms associated with various levels of stress, i.e. “green/calm,” “yellow/agitated,” “orange/tipping point,” and “red/meltdown.” Learn to identify what your stress temperature is at any given moment.
- Make use of technology. For example, let’s say stress tends to cause you to skip out on your running routine. Set your smartwatch up to monitor your steps and let you know if you appear to be skipping your workout.
- Know your triggers. Let’s say for example that bright light stresses you. If you are aware of that fact, and you are driving with the sun glaring in your eyes, there is a good chance your stress levels have increased, even if you do not “feel” it yet. But this type of stress has a way of sneaking up on you. Being aware of this may prevent you from unintentionally acting on it (by, for example, cutting off another driver).
When you are able to monitor your stress levels effectively, you are empowered in the following ways:
- You can avoid or remove triggers in some situations, reducing your stress levels.
- You can remind yourself to take soothing actions to calm yourself down.
- You can take a break when necessary to reset and recharge.
- You are less likely to take out your stress on those around you unintentionally.
- At work? You can check more closely for errors before completing your tasks.
Even with self-monitoring on your side, it is impossible to altogether avoid stress. So make sure you have some long-term coping mechanisms to help you function at your best. Get plenty of sleep, work out regularly, meditate, and think about taking a healthy supplement for adrenal support.